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Sounding board: Investing in non-IT skills

CIO Staff (CIO) | April 28, 2014
How two IT leaders are meeting the need for more business-oriented IT staff

Stephanie Barros, director of information technology, Johnson & Johnson Medical

Recruit staff to connect the dots between IT and business

Over recent years, we have undergone a transformation in IT to streamline our processes, segment our capabilities and increase the value we deliver to the business. This transformation necessitates that the business-facing IT team must have non-IT skills to be effective.

From my perspective, are skills include an in-depth understanding of the market/industry that the business operates within; the ability to discern connections between technology, people and process to identify and capitalise on opportunities; and an almost singular focus on what adds value to the external customer.

With the segmentation of IT capability, the highly regarded and valued technical skills remain in the back office or are vendor provided services.

The need for a more business-oriented IT professional has emerged to bridge the gap between the back office/vendors and business. This ensures effective communication that results in solutions focused on maximising business value, not just being on time, on budget, or on specification.

As a consequence of the transformation and segmentation of IT capability, business-facing IT professionals in our organisation must have non-IT capability in addition to their technical skills across their teams. The best way to describe what non-IT skills can enhance is the ability to ‘connect the dots’.

This IT professional can view an entire business end-to-end with a different perspective, and create greater value for the business by understanding and challenging business requests, identifying process and productivity improvements, defining new approaches for competitive advantage and solutioning in a more radically innovative way.

Diversity is another dimension ensuring IT success. Diversity of culture, gender, age, thinking, background and experience all add to the richness of discussion and enable the dots to be connected in more creative ways.

Diversity is a central part of the culture across the Johnson & Johnson family of companies and translates directly into the makeup of our IT organisation. As companies strive towards a more customer-centric culture, attracting, developing and retaining a base of employees that reflects the diversity of their customers is essential to success.

Key to customer centricity is developing a clear understanding of the value created for the customer, and the proportion of this value actually captured by the customer. The challenge is to determine how each of these is perceived by the customer; features and benefits of the product or service alone do not define value.


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